Peacock Feathers – Tail Feather Anatomy
First off, I apologize for the crude sketch, but I think it will serve its purpose. I just wanted to lay out some common vocabulary that’s used in the industry and I’ll use here when I talk about peacock feathers. Its really quite simple.
Peacock feathers, indeed all feathers, are made up of a quill (sometimes called spine) with small plumules that extend from the sides. On peacock feathers all the plumules are separated except at the very tip where they form together into an eye. A peacock feathers eye is what makes it truly unique. But even in the eye, the peacock feathers plumules never truly interlock the way they do a duck feather. The peacock pheasant has similar eye patterns on its feathers, but no other feather has this incredible distinctive pattern.
Rather like a tree, the anatomy of a peacock feather can be traced from largest branch to smallest. The smallest bits are called barbs. The barbs attache to the barbulle. The barbulles and barbs together for the plumule. The plumule then attaches to the quill which then attaches to the skin of the bird. The peacock feather has a unique eye at its tip where the circular pattern can be seen and all the plumules for tightly together. When referring to the plumules as a group, we use the term flue. Flue is often stripped off and sold stitched together on a ribbon to be used for crafts and fashion.
Peacock feathers are extremely robust often being dragged along on the ground by the bird. The most common defaults are breakage. A broken quill is simply called a broken feather. Broken flue is usually referred to as chipped.